Shivpal mends bridges with Akhilesh, may even get to contest Lok Sabha polls
Shivpal’s loyalties have been a matter of speculation since last July, when he and a few loyalists defied the party whip and voted in favour of NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind “on the instructions of Netaji”. He, however, warmed up to Akhilesh after the Samajwadi Party’s recent victories in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls.lucknow Updated: Mar 26, 2018 20:12 IST
Samajwadi Party MLA Shivpal Yadav shrugged off his pariah tag by voting along party lines in the Rajya Sabha election on Friday. Now, insiders say the patch-up between the two warring camps might culminate not only in complete rapprochement but also a Lok Sabha nomination for the once-disgruntled leader.
Shivpal, uncle of party president Akhilesh Yadav, was never a serious player in national politics. He had been contesting only in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections since 1996, when he won the Jaswant Nagar seat.
A senior Samajwadi Party leader said that while the decision of fielding Shivpal in the Lok Sabha polls lay with the party president, the Yadav family feud was certainly over. “He is very much a part of the party, and will play an important role in Mulayam’s Lok Sabha election campaign,” the politician revealed on the condition of anonymity.
Although the party is yet to make a formal announcement, Akhilesh has already hinted that Mulayam – his father and former party president – will contest from the Mainpuri parliamentary constituency. While the party patriarch retained the Azamgarh seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, his grand-nephew – Tej Pratap Singh Yadav – currently holds the Mainpuri seat.
Shivpal’s loyalties have been a matter of speculation since last July, when he and a few loyalists defied the party whip and voted in favour of NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind “on the instructions of Netaji (as Mulayam is fondly known)”. The Samajwadi Party had asked all its MPs and MLAs to vote for opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
The same month, three of his supporters allegedly paved the way for the election of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya and three others to the Vidhan Parishad by resigning from the legislative council membership.
Things did not look particularly rosy until last month either. Weeks ahead of Friday’s Rajya Sabha polls, the rebel camp had indicated that it could go against the party line again. However, after the Samajwadi Party registered stunning victories in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls, Shivpal began tweeting congratulatory messages hailing Akhilesh’s “able leadership”.
The coming days witnessed renewed bonhomie between the two camps. Shivpal was invited to a dinner held by the Samajwadi Party ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, and – for the first time – he sat alongside party MPs at any such event.
Shivpal stayed by Akhilesh’s side, smiling and interacting with other leaders. Soon afterwards, he tweeted pictures with the caption: “Participated in the dinner with Samajwadi colleagues who are full of energy, hope, and experience.”
The next day, Shivpal voted along party lines.
Cracks had emerged in ties between Shivpal and Akhilesh in August 2016, when a power struggle broke out in the family. Akhilesh won in the months that followed, replacing Mulayam as the party president on January 1 last year.
First Published: Mar 26, 2018 19:09 IST